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Calif. utilities oppose ambitious Prop 7

October 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Proposition 7 would empower the state to make utilities use half solar and wind energy in 17 years. The pieces of a new solar panel slowly come together at SolarWorld, a company dedicated to solar energy. The company works with photovoltaic cells that will turn the suns energy into electricity for homes and businesses. The energy is clean, green and the backers of Proposition 7 believe it is just the beginning.

"It means stable prices over the long run; it means lower prices over the long run; it means a cleaner state, cleaner air and it means more jobs and a chance to rebuild California's economy," said Bill Zimmerman, a Prop 7 supporter.

Proposition 7 would require utilities to purchase 50 percent of their energy from renewable sources like wind and solar by the year 2025. It is an ambitious plan that could change the way Californians turn on the lights for decades to come.

"They have 17 years to meet that standard, which is plenty of time. And once they do, California residents will have clean and cheap energy that they can rely on forever," said Zimmerman.

But solar and wind power cost more than the fossil fuels currently used. And not surprisingly, the big utilities that would be required to buy it don't support the measure. However, they are not alone.

You would think a companies like SolarWorld would be in favor of Proposition 7, but they're not. Their concern isn't the intent of the proposition, but the way the law is put together.

"Today, what we have is private industry, a lot of private money getting in there to do what is good for California," said Raju Yenamandra, SolarWorld.

SolarWorld specializes in smaller projects for businesses and homes. The company fears Prop 7 will favor bigger projects, leaving them out.

"The last thing we need to see in the current economic environment, and more so, what we've done in the last 10 years to grow this business," said Yenamandra

Supporters of Prop 7 insist the smaller players will still get their share.

Whether the power source becomes wind, sun, or sticking to fossil fuels, for now Prop 7 is generating controversy.


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